Too often the clean look of a wall-mounted television is ruined by a mess of cords dangling underneath. If you’re planning to mount a TV on the wall, take some time to consider the installation logistics. Knowing what challenges you’ll face and developing a plan that addresses them can make a huge difference in the finished appearance of your home-theater setup.
Installing a Bracket
The most foolproof approach is to purchase the television first and then work on the installation. But as long as you know the screen size, you can buy a bracket and complete most of the installation before you bring home the TV. (TVs within a given screen-size range have very similar weights and dimensions.)
Many wall-mount brackets are available, ranging from models that hold the TV flat and stationary to brackets that extend, tilt and turn so that the TV can be positioned to face almost any area in the room. Low-profile brackets keep the TV close to the wall, but they also leave little room for accessing the cable jacks, which can make connecting cables more difficult.
You may let the component cables hang out of the wall opening or install a low-voltage connector cover plate. These plates make it easy to connect and disconnect cables and offer a more attractive appearance when the outlet box will not be concealed behind components.
Choose a bracket that is rated to support your TV’s weight and meets your viewing needs. Most brackets include detailed instructions and the necessary hardware to securely attach the bracket and TV to the wall.
For the best viewing angle, a good rule of thumb is to mount the bracket at the eye level from which you’ll most often watch TV. However, the design of the room may dictate that you mount the TV in another location, such as over a mantel. And if you have young children or pets, you may want to mount the TV high to keep it out of their reach.
The location of your AV components may also affect where you mount your TV. It’s typically easier to rout cables when the components are close to the TV, but don’t let their proximity to the TV limit your design. You can always use longer cables to reach the components.
You may choose to store components in a closet or cabinet to keep them out of sight. If you hide the components, you’ll need to either install a remote-control signal sensor that relays the signal or purchase a radio-frequency remote that can send signals through cabinet doors or walls.
Hiding the cables
Routing cables is typically the most challenging part of a wall-mount installation. Two types of cables connect to the TV: high-voltage (the power cord) and low-voltage (audio, video and data cables). These two types of cables must not share the same space in an outlet box. You can install separate boxes for each type of cable or install a combination box with a divider that keeps the cables separated (see “Outlet Box Options,” below). I prefer combination high- and low-voltage boxes because they require only one hole in the wall and take up less space.
It’s easiest to install the TV bracket on the wall first (just the bracket — don’t mount the TV yet) and then install the outlet box. Professional installers have differing opinions about the best device box location. A good general rule is to install the box above the bracket if the TV will be mounted at or above standing eye-level and below the bracket if the TV will be mounted below standing eye-level. If you’re not sure on which side of the TV the cables will connect, installing the box near the center of the bracket offers the most flexibility.
Determine the TV location. I used tape to mark the perimeter of the TV. Locate and mark the wall studs. Then install the bracket in the middle of the opening. Next, mark the location of the device box and cut the opening for it.
Rout power-supply cables to the device box. Rout audiovisual cables from the box to the home-theater components. Then feed the ends of the cables into the device box and secure the box in the opening.
Connect the power-supply wires to the outlet. To protect the TV from power spikes, install an outlet that features surge protection. This Leviton outlet produces an audible tone when protection fails.
Fasten the TV mounts to the back of the TV, and mount the TV on the wall bracket. Carefully follow all mounting instructions provided by the manufacturers of the bracket and the TV. Finally, connect the cables to the TV, wall plug and components.
No Stud Anchors
If your bracket only crosses over one stud or no studs, which is often the case with small brackets, use a wallboard anchor (such as the Moen SecureMount shown below) that is designed to support heavy loads.
Easy Cable Routing
You’ll get the most professional-looking results by routing cables through the walls, but if you’re not comfortable with routing power-supply cables and installing a new electrical box, there are a couple of options that will help clean up cable clutter. The first is to conceal the cables in a surface-mounted plastic raceway. Most raceways can be painted to match the wall. The second option is to install an in-wall cable kit such as the DataComm Flat Panel TV Cable Organizer Kit shown here. This kit features a pair of recessed boxes that you install and connect to a nearby existing outlet so you don’t have to tamper with your home’s wiring.